For the first time in two decades, Derek Jeter isn’t the Yankees starting shortstop. After an illustrious career, Jeter called it quits after 20 seasons in the bigs, leaving a gaping hole between 2nd and 3rd.
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman was quick in finding a replacement, however temporary, for his departed captain. He dealt for Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Didi Gregorius, a slick fielding 24 year old Dutchman.
Gregorius certainly isn’t a headline grabber. Discounting his 8 game stint with Cincinatti in 2012, Gregorius is a career .239 hitter, who doesnt hit for power. Despite his defensive skills, he was eventually displaced by Chris Owings as starting shortstop.
Gregorius will likely platoon with Brendan Ryan at shortstop, unless one of them proves more valuable than the other. Gregorius will likely be given more opportunities, given his age and potential value. The Yankees are expecting the Dutch international to develop into a solid player down the road.
However, the organization wants to make it clear that he is not replacing Derek Jeter: “He is not replacing Derek. He is just now going to come in here and compete to hold down that position at shortstop,” said Brian Cashman.
With Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki a name that many Yankees fans desire, Gregorius will likely be met by frustration and impatience by the fans. He has impossible shoes to fill, which doesnt exactly make him the envy of many: the first starting shortstop not named Derek Jeter for the Yankees since 1995.
Gregorius will be expected to get on base a decent amount– he’ll be hitting at the end of the lineup, so the pressure will be somewhat alleviated. If he hits over .250 that would be brilliant. He’ll probably hit around 5-7 home runs for the year, and knock in between 30 and 40 runs. An OPS of .350 would also be solid. Gregorius should aim to be more patient in the box, and try and get on base as much as possible.
On defense, if he shows his range and remains relatively error-free, he should be accepted in the Big Apple. He has large shoes to fill, but the expectations are low. Gregorius could be a nice fit this season.